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Kitselas approve agreement in principle
MEMBERS of the Kitselas First Nation have approved a land claims agreement in principle, containing core elements they will now take forward in final treaty talks with the federal and provincial governments.
Of 226 voters who cast ballots, 149 said 'yes' to the agreement and 76 said 'no'. There was one rejected ballot.
“The Kitselas people made history today,” said Kitselas Chief Councillor Judy Gerow in a statement released last night once voting was concluded. “And that is very good news day for Kitselas, Terrace and the region. It is humbling to be part of this.”
“This will be a huge benefit to the City of Terrace and to the region,” said Gerow. “Our many non- aboriginal business partners, friends and neighbours stand to benefit directly from this economic certainty.”
“This overwhelming “yes” vote signals a major step towards a final treaty, a way for us to break free from the Indian Act,” she said.
There were 434 voters eligible to cast votes, making the turnout at 52 per cent. The 'yes' vote amounted to 66 per cent of those who did cast ballots.
Of those who did vote, 64 did so by mailing in ballots.
The agreement in principle contains cash, land, self government powers and provisions for taxation for the Kitselas First Nation which has two main residential areas, one along Queensway in Thornhill and a larger subdivision at Gitaus, east of Terrace on Hwy16.
The approval comes after more than 15 years of negotiations toward a treaty.
The Kitselas First Nation had prepared for yesterday's vote by conducting a series of public meetings and home visits.
Based on the agreement in principle, the Kitselas will receive $34.7 million and 35,090 hectares of provincial crown land once a final agreement is reached.
An additional 250 hectares will be transferred immediately, an allocation that depended upon approval of the agreement in principle.